A Call for Racial Justice Reform in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

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The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) presides over 6,000 congregations with more than 2 million members, 778 elementary schools, 84 high schools, 8 colleges and 2 seminaries -- not to mention its many educational, missional and service efforts around the world. The signers of this statement are either members of the LCMS, have been educated by Lutheran teachers, encouraged by Missouri Synod pastors or have experienced the seemingly limitless generosity of the church body’s participants and organizations.

WE LOVE OUR CHURCH.

But we have a problem.

Despite presiding over the largest Protestant school system in America, the LCMS is our nation’s third-LEAST racially diverse religious body. Among the more tangible effects of our systemic issues: the Synod’s only Historically Black College has closed, black ministries have lost synodical funding, and no Black Lutherans are entering seminary this year.

Throughout its history, our church body has made efforts toward racial equality, but it has also been an impediment, and at times, a hostile opponent to those causes. Just as often, our cultural divides have been exacerbated by the church's silence when we have failed to speak for the suffering -- even for those within our very own congregations and schools (The Black Clergy Caucus of the LCMS released a statement that gives further context on these matters).

While we refuse to closet past transgressions, we are not here to relentlessly flog ourselves nor our leaders. Driven by fervent hope, we faithfully believe the people of the LCMS have the opportunity, capacity and influence to lead the Church and nation in taking actions for equality, justice, and reconciliation.

With all this in mind, the signers of this statement humbly:

  • CONFESS that our thoughts, words, and deeds have created, deepened, and sustained the lasting wounds of racial prejudice, inequality, and injustice -- by what we have done and by what we have left undone, we repent.
  • DECLARE an intent to, by God’s grace, dismantle the systems of racism within our congregations, communities, and church body. Our work for racial equality does not end with this statement, but rather begins. We will aim to honor the humanity of our black and brown neighbors by listening, learning, and moving towards faithful action in the decision making process of our church, city and Synod, inviting the accountability of fellowship when we fall short.
  • PLEDGE SUPPORT, in word, deed, and resources, to RAISE UP future black leaders, as well as seeking out opportunities to ELEVATE & AMPLIFY current Black Lutheran voices (donating to The Institute of Black Lutheran Studies & Center for Social Justice is a great place to start).

We do not expect the deep wounds of racial divide to be healed overnight. We do believe, however, that it is reasonable and necessary for us to take immediate, visible, bold action. The lives of our congregants, the future of our communities, and the survival of our church body depend on it.

It’s time.

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PLEASE CONSIDER ADDING YOUR NAME TO THIS PETITION as a show of support for our fellow Lutherans and neighbors. Stay informed on this and future actions by visiting: www.lutheransforracialjustice.com

This document represents the collective voice of all signers, but for the sake of transparency and accountability, the original authors are noted below. 

LUTHERANS FOR RACIAL JUSTICE

Rev. Matthew Ryan Gonzalez, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church - The Bronx, NY

Joshua Salzberg, First Lutheran Church - Culver City, CA